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Tue 13 Jun 2017
Hilary Ambrose – Naughty Ancestors.


Hilary, a member of the Southport Family History Group, said that most of us will have, as she described them, naughty ancestors.

She referred to her own family history studies giving examples of issues that, for the most part, families did not speak about. Being a family historian she explained the sources available that throw light on a variety of these issues.

One issue was illegitimacy, which was a subject quite often kept behind closed doors. Her granny had a child out of wedlock and nobody in the family spoke about it. Through her research she established that Wilfrid, her half-uncle, who no one knew who is father was, was that child.

An important part of family history research is to talk with older members of the family and try to obtain as much information as possible about people and events that may have surrounded them. This allied with research of official records can give fact to what was gossip.

One family story began with a phone call regarding 1 son who did not look like anyone of his siblings. Research revealed that the family father was away serving in the army in World War 1 at Gallipoli at the time of conception.

Hilary Ambrose

A check of the dates on all Hilary’s ancestors’ dates of marriage with dates of their first born through baptism records revealed 10 births with gaps of much less than 9 months after the parent’s marriage.

A look at birth certificates can reveal plenty of shocks. Baptism registers do describe children born out of wedlock as ‘illegitimate’, ‘base born’ and ‘bastard’.

For ancestors who had fallen foul of the law there is plenty of information available to establish the facts. The criminal records’ national archive, newspapers, police courts, assize courts and bankruptcies can all be accessed via websites.

Also, Hilary explained the inspection of wills can solve and can create family history problems.

In conclusion Hilary asked about black sheep in our families. She said we’ve all got them and will have fun finding out about them.

A most revealing evening.

Peter Robinson